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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Intense talks underway on Security Council resolution to pause fighting and send more aid

Destroyed buildings in northern Gaza, seen from Sderot, Israel on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (Tamir Kalifa/The New York Times)

By Farnaz Fassihi

After a week of delays and intense negotiations, a U.S. official said the United States was negotiating with Egypt to find a compromise Thursday on a U.N. Security Council resolution that would allow for scaled-up, safe delivery of aid from air, land and sea.

A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks, said that, since Thursday morning, high-level negotiations were happening between Washington and Cairo to find common ground over who would inspect aid going into the Gaza Strip.

Deputy Ambassador Robert A. Wood told reporters earlier Thursday that the United States was still in talks but was not yet ready to sign off on the resolution, which also called for pauses in fighting. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general, told reporters Thursday that the council was in “deep discussion.”

The vote, originally scheduled for midday, was pushed to later Thursday. The council has delayed the vote three times this week at the request of the United States.

Egypt, which controls the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, wants the United Nations to take over and streamline the delivery of aid to the enclave, which has gone weeks with little access to basics including food, water and medical care.

The United States, under pressure from Israel, has said Israel must be involved in inspections and disputes that U.N. inspections will speed up aid.

The U.N. handles, monitors and delivers humanitarian aid to many conflict zones around the world. For example, the Security Council, with the backing of the United States, passed a resolution to allow the United Nations to cross the border into northern Syria and inspect and deliver aid.

“The U.N. has done this kind of work before. It is now up to us to ensure that it has robust backing to respond to this catastrophe in Gaza,” said Lana Nusseibeh, the U.N. ambassador for the United Arab Emirates who is leading the negotiations on the resolution. “As we have done from the beginning of these negotiations, we will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of a successful adoption.”

Kate Phillips-Barrasso, vice president of global policy and advocacy for Mercy Corps, urged the Security Council to act, saying “Gaza is out of time.”

“As in other conflicts, independent monitoring mechanisms are critical to ensuring aid gets to people quickly and does not involve parties to the conflict determining what gets in and how fast,” she said.

Israel launched the war to crush Hamas and other militant groups after Hamas led an attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed roughly 1,200 people and took around another 240 people as hostages. Humanitarian aid has trickled through the Rafah border crossing after a complicated monitoring system in which truck convoys have to first travel to Israel for inspection, then return to Egypt to cross into Gaza through Rafah.

Health authorities in Gaza say that around 20,000 people have been killed in the enclave since the beginning of the war, the majority women and children, and the U.N. has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe as a majority of the enclave’s civilians have been forced to flee their homes.

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